Dogs Rally Late to Down RailCats
by Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Gary, IN – The Gary SouthShore RailCats pushed the Chicago Dogs to the brink in the first game of this three-game series, but the visitors provided the big swings they needed late to pull out the 7-4 victory.
Though most of the action occurred in the final few frames, the Dogs got the scoring started all the way back in the first. Michael Crouse recorded a one-out single and stole second base shortly afterward, drawing a throwing error that allowed him to reach third. The next batter, Ryan Lidge, lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to put Chicago on the board.
Their early lead held up through the first four innings, but the RailCats broke through for a trio of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Tom Walraven drew a walk, and Michael Woodworth singled him to second on a well-executed hit and run. With two runners on, Daniel Lingua slapped a triple to the left-center field gap to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run advantage. Michael Cruz‘s sacrifice fly one batter later extended gave the RailCats breathing room and placed them ahead 3-1.
Pitching in front for the first time, Adam Heidenfelder made sure it stood up while he was on the mound. In his 6.1 innings, he allowed just one unearned run on five hits, striking out five Dogs with just one walk for his longest start of the season.
As a runner stood on second base and the tying run in the batter’s box, the RailCats turned to Steven Colon to bail them out of trouble. He needed just seven pitches to coax two flyouts and preserve Gary SouthShore’s two-run edge.
Just six outs away from defeat, however, the Chicago lineup began to click. Two walks positioned runners on first and second before a K.C. Hobson single cut his team’s deficit to one run. Another walk loaded the bases, and Danny Mars took advantage, roping a single to tie the game.
But, with their backs against the wall, the RailCats looked to Aaron Phillips to keep the contest level. As the bases remained loaded, he got a strikeout and groundout to hold the two foes level at three.
Taking their newfound momentum into their next turn at-bat, the RailCats found a way to propel themselves back in front. Sam Abbott drew a walk, and Javeyan Williams took over for him as a pinch runner. Alec Olund then hit a groundball to the left side of an infield and forced a wild throw, allowing Williams to advance to third. As he tried to take second himself, Olund tripped and the Dogs forced him into a rundown which enabled Williams to come home without a throw, handing the ‘Cats their lead back at 4-3.
Down to their final three outs this time, the Dogs went right back to work. A strikeout opened the frame, but back-to-back singles permitted the tying and go-ahead runs to reach base. A flyout moved them both into scoring position, and the RailCats decided to intentionally walk the bases loaded with two outs. As Dogs stood on every base, Stevie Wilkerson hit a grand slam that delivered them a 7-4 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Though they trailed by three runs, the RailCats refused to quit. Lingua singled and Cruz doubled with two outs to get the tying run to the plate, putting pressure back on the Dogs. Nevertheless, Dogs pitching buckled down and got the final out to finish off the win.
The RailCats look to rebound against the Dogs tomorrow as the two teams head back to The Steel Yard for a 6:45 p.m. first pitch. All the action will be streamed on aabaseball.tv, 95.9 WEFM, and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network through the Mixlr app.